Improving working conditions in your clothing supply chain

4: Right to organise

Workers committees, trade unions, and collective bargaining agreements: in the European Union these parts of the work environment are taken for granted. In many garment-producing countries, however, these rights are not secured.

In many cases, factory owners fear that organized workers will disrupt production and drive the factory into bankruptcy. There is a growing body of evidence, however, that workers with an effective way to negotiate with owners are more productive.

Workers who cannot resolve problems are most likely to quit when they are unhappy – or stage wildcat strikes.  As a consequence worker turnover is very high and morale quite low in many garment factories. That mix is a recipe for poor quality and unreliable production calendars.

Clothing brands may not directly employ workers, but they can encourage factories to respect organizing laws, and share their experiences of negotiating with workers. Consult our resources to learn more about supporting the right to organize.